Gingivitis occurs in three out of four Americans during their lifetime. Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that occurs when plaque builds up on teeth and causes inflammation of the gum tissue. Plaque bacteria leads to issues beyond gingivitis, such as weakened tooth enamel. Even with regular brushing, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of your gum line, because a healthy mouth starts there. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more severe form of gum disease, known as periodontitis, which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. With proper dental care, gingivitis is easily reversible.
Poor oral hygiene is only one of several easily avoidable causes of gingivitis. Here is a list of the rest to watch out for and avoid:
- Smoking and tobacco use.
- Not fully removing plaque. This can be avoided with regular flossing.
- Constant stress can weaken your immune system and negatively impact your ability to fight infection, including gum disease.
- Hormonal changes including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and monthly menstruation cause increased sensitivity and inflammation in your gums.
- Poor nutrition.
- Medications for many conditions can affect oral health.
- Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV, impair the body’s ability to fight infection.
Because gingivitis doesn’t often cause pain, many sufferers don’t know they have it. In fact, as many as 75% of all Americans will experience some degree of gingivitis during their lifetime. That’s why it’s important not only to know what to look for, but also to see your dentist regularly. Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Red, puffy gums.
- Bleeding gums.
- Sore gums.
- Tooth pain or sensitivity.
- Chronic bad breath.
- Loose teeth.
If you think you might have gingivitis, don’t worry! With the help of your dentist, gingivitis is treatable and preventable. The best way to treat it is to catch it early. Check your gums frequently for changes in color or texture. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Practice standard dental routines to help prevent and treat gingivitis: Brush your teeth and gums at least two times a day, floss at least once a day, and replace your toothbrush every three months.